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Ohio Valley update

Well, the power went out for me and (apparently) 1.9 million other people on Sunday afternoon as Ike made its way towards Chicago.  I spent the afternoon reading and then writing on the balcony, while other people on their balconies audibly asked each other what was going on.  (Winds were high, but we live in a sheltered little alcove.  All we could see were trees tossing.)  It was puzzling because it wasn't raining.  Normally when the power goes out, there's rain or ice to go with it. 

I tried to write something constructive, but all I could do was write about the election and about my cat.  Part of me has already retreated and frozen up, preparing for his death.  I know this is wrong and that I should spend extra time with him, committing him to memory, but I've been holding part of myself back.  I've never faced lingering illness in someone or something I loved before, only abrupt, catastrophic death. 

The power came back on at 7:30 in the morning.  I'm in the lucky minority.  My sister has been without power for about 30 hours, and my parents won't get power for another few days. 



Sep. 16th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
The loss of a loved soul, whether it's human or otherwise, is a very powerful thing. I've had a buddhist/pagan upbringing and death is very much a part of life for us.

I don't know if that concepts comforts people from other traditions, but for me, knowing that one day I too will die helps me tremendously when facing the death of another. The dharma teaches that it isn't actually death that causes suffering, it is attachment. If we can love freely, openly and wholeheartedly without grasping or clinging to that feeling, then (while we might miss it when it leaves us) it is not the traumatic tearing away of something. Our loved ones don't leave us hollow or broken and that allows us to spend their last days with them in the spirit of honest joy and appreciation.

It's an incredibly difficult thing to do, I grant you, but I've seen it done - and the whole atmosphere changes and shifts to a gentle acceptance and genuine happiness for every hour, minute and second spent with whoever is dying.

Each to their own, but this website by Ajahn Jagaro might be helpful reading, you never know.

I remember feeling utterly empty when my English Setter Penny died when I was 23. She'd been a part of my life since I was 8, moved out of home with me, kept me company through some very difficult times and all in the spirit of innocent and unconditional love. I think that often it's our animal companions themselves that show us how to handle death and dying - as an inevitable consequence of living, rather than something to be feared ... honestly sad, yes, but not unjust.

In the meantime, my thoughts are with you.
Sep. 17th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
Thank you for the link. I am reading it with interest. Thank you for sharing it.

When my cat was very ill before, in 2000, I felt as if I had never given him enough attention, appreciated him enough. I learned from that. Now, eight years later, I know I appreciated him and loved him every day. I'm very upset, yes, and think it's too soon to lose him, and that I'm not ready, but I don't regret anything. I'm glad I have that component of serenity, at least.

Thank you very much for writing: I'm interested in the ideas you've introduced, and appreciate as well your kindness and sympathy. It means a lot to me.